Em­bank­ments chief cause of Kosi mis­ery, says re­port

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation -

New Delhi: A re­port pre­pared by a civil so­ci­ety-based factfind­ing team on the flood­ing in north Bi­har has as­serted that the em­bank­ments along the Kosi river have been the chief cause of mis­ery.

The team led by flood ex­pert Dinesh Mishra and oth­ers has rec­om­mended that the em­bank­ments should be de­mol­ished care­fully to en­sure that the re­gion does not suf­fer fur­ther.

“There is a prece­dence of em­bank­ment de­mo­li­tion in In­dia. The em­bank­ments cre­ated along a length of 32km on river Damodar in 1854 were de­mol­ished in 1869 when the Bri­tish re­alised that far from con­trol­ling floods, the em­bank­ments were sub­merg­ing fer­tile land,” said Sud­hiren­dar Sharma, co-au­thor of the re­port, which is ti­tled “Kosi Del­uge: The Worst is Still to Come”.

The au­thors have also pointed out that the Dutch gov­ern­ment too had pre­ferred to let rivers Rhine and Meuse be man­aged as flood plains in­stead of lock­ing them with em­bank­ments af­ter the lat­ter had failed to con­trol floods.

The team, in its re­port points out, that the work on em­bank­ments on the Bag­mati river and trib­u­taries of the Ma­hananda had al­ready be­gun de­spite the Kosi havoc.

The au­thors noted that the em­bank­ments had, in­stead of manag­ing floods, re­sulted in in­creas­ing the flood prone area in the state from 2.5 mil­lion hectares in 1950s to as high as 6.8 mil­lion hectares now.

Re­it­er­at­ing a point that civil so­ci­ety groups have been mak­ing since the dis­as­ter struck, the re­port warns that the pro­posed dam on Kosi in Nepal could not be passed off as a flood con­trol mea­sure as its sole pur­pose was to gen­er­ate power.

It pointed that the jack­et­ing of Kosi had pre­vented its an­nual es­ti­mated silt load of 92.5 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres from spread­ing and im­prov­ing soil fer­til­ity in the basin. Con­versely, the de­po­si­tion of silt has con­trib­uted to in­creas­ing the riverbed by as much as four me­tres. As a re­sult, the ad­join­ing drainage had been ob­structed caus­ing wa­ter log­ging over an area of 8,360 sq kilo­me­tres or 16% of the to­tal area in North Bi­har.

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